We practice kata repeatedly and by doing so, we pay utmost attention to work out our mind and our body and strive to develop strong ki (energy).
Kajiya Takanori soke
“We practice kata repeatedly” does not only mean to do the kata again and again. It means to work on kata through time, or in other words: through time we work on kata. We trust in the power of time as time is what achieves, ripens and enables us to harvest. Thus, time works through the practice of kata to achieve the goal of kata and of its practice.
“By doing so“, through the power of time well spent, “we pay utmost attention” or we concentrate our mind and body to the point at which they are developed together as one.
As a result and not as a second aim, strong energy or ki is generated. Thus a well spent day is a key to an energetic mind-body unity.
So now, how can we spend the next hour?
In kenjutsu, there is no game. We train with kata.
Kajiya Takanori soke
This is an instruction. This is a statement of the kenjutsu Kajiya soke transmits, this is the kenjutsu of Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu.
One can give reasons as to why we avoid ‘games’ in the study of kenjutsu. One can reveal advantages of such a choice. One can reflect on the relation between game and sword art. There may be aspects of games that kata cannot develop. One can witness some weaknesses in just kata study.
Still, the student of Kajiya soke will follow his recommendation for the simple reason that that is what Kajiya soke teaches. Because one chooses to be a student and particularly his student, the student obeys his teacher. His efforts are to understand through doing, doing the kata of kenjutsu. Because his choice is that of a student, then obedience to his teacher is compulsory. If not, then he should change teacher or stop studying.
The student acts in this manner because he trusts his teacher, his sensei, to teach the good path, the correct way. This is trust in the teacher, in the choice of the teacher. There is no need to spend time on reflecting the worth of kata study when there is such an urgent need to find time to study kata. This is the way of the student, the deshi.
In kenjutsu, we reflect on our teacher’s lesson through practising his recommendations, through examining his example.
Through keiko, it is instructed that one can reach a stage when one becomes able to overcome any situation.
Kajiya Takanori soke
This can be read quickly, but takes so much time to realize. To go into keiko, to endure keiko and to reach the other side of keiko is a long journey. Ones needs to live this journey entirely to fully understand the far reaching travel. Only if one has travelled to the end of the journey and come back, can one speak and testify for its worth. Then one can say “I have understood the first two words of the sentence.“
Now comes the meaning of “it is instructed“. To get the meaning of this instruction, one has to seek and obtain such instruction that is valid. One has to receive the instruction at the greatest source, from the springing well, from the soke of this generation. But it is written “it is instructed” which means that this water that ends our thirst comes from further than a simple man but from a chain of men. “It is instructed” is the sum of the series of masters since Musashi who instruct, a series summed up in one man, one soke.
“One reaches a stage” implies that one buys this journey through one’s own effort supported by the guidance of a master. This is not the end of the quest. It is but a stage and not the aim. It means that such a stage is a marking stone of our progress on the path.
To overcome any situation may then reveal seeing any situation as a coming of time, not as an end of time. As Master Eno wrote: “Let come the light of the coming time”.
These words are not an interpretation of Kajiya soke’s thought but a reminder that his words are to be brought into keiko, through keiko and out of keiko, when keiko is thoroughly done. They are to be lived in the fire of keiko.
In response to students who begin the study of the sword and wish to study in a traditional dojo (house in which one studies the Way) manner, here are some recommendations I give to beginners in France:
To clarify the direction of our study of the sword and help our students, we adhere to the following:
- The deshi (student) should aim at improving his physical capabilities, for example flexibility, endurance and power. This does not mean he has to be flexible, enduring and powerful from the start but he has to put forth all his efforts to attain such capabilities.
- His spirit should have a liking to self discipline, to persevere and to deepen his techniques and understanding. Should the deshi not have a taste for this double discipline, which is that of his body and mind, he would lead himself to misunderstand the martial arts in general and of koryu (old schools) in particular.
- The deshi must know that not knowing is the primary truth of the deshi. The second truth is that the teacher is the one who knows. Koryu and the following (modern disciplines such as Judo, Aikido and Karate) are based on such asymmetrical relation.
- The attendance must be diligent so that the deshi may improve regularly and not become a burden for those who attend all classes. Each failure to attend causes a gap in the technical progress of the student.
- An absence must be justified in advance (email), as is polite. Workshops must be followed in full, except for serious injury preventing such, and the teacher’s agreement asked for in advance. Special and temporary situations may be taken into account by the teacher.
- Arriving more than 5 minutes late to class means you will not be able to participate in the lesson.
- You cannot arrive directly for the second hour of a workshop, (an exception is allowed for sempai (senior); an exception cannot become the rule).
- Irregularity of attendance will be reported by the teacher who will invite the deshi to return to his initial commitments and to come only for the first hour. This is an opportunity to solve the problem
sof attendance. If the deshi is unable to restore the regularity of his practice, the teacher will ask him to leave the school in order not to divert its members from their purposeful study, that of a martial art practice aiming toward the highest level.
- Payment must be made at the 2nd class (the 1st being free) and before the start of the class.
- Prior registration is required to attend workshops.
It is only by following this way that the teaching of our school will bring us closer to the examples of our masters and escape the temptation of entertainment, which is one of the symptoms of a society of boredom. Eastern martial arts are based on the study of ki (qi in Chinese), the principle of vitality that always flows forward. Our study testifies of this vitality.
Translation by Nguyen Thanh Thien with the help of Mr O’Brien.